Media Labels Christian Law Center as “Hate Group”

70124305_sCommentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

ABC News reporters Pete Madden and Erin Galloway led a mainstream media smear campaign against the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), one of the country’s most respected religious liberty law firms, causing a national outcry after referring to them as a “hate group.”

Fox News’ Todd Starnes is reporting on the debacle which began when Madden and Galloway published a negative review of a speech made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Summit on Religious Liberty, hosted by the ADF, which took place July 11 at the Ritz Carlton in Dana Point, California.

During this talk, Sessions outlined the history of religious liberty in the United States, its importance to the overall health and prosperity of the nation, and the various ways it was being attacked today.

“Under this administration, religious Americans will be treated neither as an afterthought nor as a problem to be managed,” Sessions promised. “The federal government will actively find ways to accommodate people of all faiths. The protections enshrined in the Constitution and our laws protect all Americans, including when we work together, speak in the public square, and when we interact with our government. We don’t waive our constitutional rights when we participate fully in public life and civic society.”

Madden and Galloway had nothing positive to say about the speech or the event. Instead, their headline screamed, “Jeff Sessions addresses ‘anti-LGBT hate group,’ but DOJ won’t release his remarks.”

They wrote: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered a speech to an alleged hate group at an event closed to reporters on Tuesday night, but the Department of Justice is refusing to reveal what he said.”

alliance defending freedom logoEven though Madden and Galloway tried to make the content of the speech sound nefarious by implying that this was why the Department of Justice wouldn’t release it, other news outlets, such as The Federalist, had no such problem. You can read the entire speech here.

So what made ABC News decide to trash such an upstanding legal organization? The extreme far-left organization known as the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). This is the same organization that once branded Dr. Ben Carson as an anti-gay “extremist” because he believes marriage is between a man and a woman. Public backlash forced them to apologize to Dr. Carson and remove his name from their list of perceived right-wing extremists. This is also the same organizations whose “hate list” was cited by convicted domestic terrorist Floyd Lee Corkins II, who launched his August 15, 2012 attack against the Family Research Center headquarters in Washington DC because it was included on the SPLC list.

With this background, it’s hard to imagine that any professional journalist would consider the SPLC to be a reliable source but other news outlets, such as NBC and CNN, all rushed to cover the story with the same hateful bias.

As Catholic League president Bill Donohue reports, NBC News was even worse than ABC. “It not only repeated the accusation made by SPLC, it sought a comment from the Democratic National Committee” who also dubbed the ADF a “hate group.” In addition, they asked the radical gay activist group, Human Rights Campaign, for a statement that also smeared the ADF as a “hate group.” NBC also attacked ADF co-founder, Dr. James Dobson, as anti-gay.

But CNN, aka the national repository of Fake News, won first prize, Donohue writes.

“It began its news story referring to ADF as ‘a self-described Christian religious freedom advocacy group known for its anti-gay stance.’ [Question: Would not CNN object if it were called 'a self-described media outlet known for its anti-conservative stance'?] It then offered a quote by someone from the National Center for Lesbian Rights that was priceless. She accused ADF of being ‘so extreme that it does not concede even that gay or transgender people should be permitted to exist as such’.”

ADF spokesperson Kerri Kupec issued a blistering condemnation of ABC News which applies to every other outlet that ran with this shameful reporting.

ABC News has committed journalistic malpractice. For ABC News to essentially cut-and-paste false charges against Alliance Defending Freedom by a radically partisan, violence-inciting organization like Southern Poverty Law Center is a discredit to ABC News and to the profession. Americans’ trust in media is cratering, and the blatant bias and lack of professionalism that ABC attempted to pass off as news can only serve to confirm and intensify that distrust,” Kupec said.

“Alliance Defending Freedom is one of the most respected and successful Supreme Court advocates in the legal profession, having won seven cases at the High Court in the last seven years. Southern Poverty Law Center spends its time and money attacking veterans, nuns, Muslims who oppose terrorism, Catholics, Evangelicals, and anyone else who dares disagree with its fringe ideology. Meanwhile, ADF works every day to preserve and affirm free speech and the free exercise of religion for people from all walks of life and all backgrounds because we believe freedom is for everyone,” she added.

“For the sake of its own integrity, ABC News should issue an apology to Alliance Defending Freedom and retract the defamatory story it published Wednesday.”

To date, no such apologies have been issued.

Big surprise.

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